Computer therapy for the anxiety and depressive disorders

January 01, 0001

Computer therapy for the anxiety and depressive disorders

Depression and anxiety disorders are common and treatable with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), but access to this therapy is limited. The aim of this study by researchers from Australia, The Netherlands and the UA is to review evidence that computerized CBT for the anxiety and depressive disorders is acceptable to patients and effective in the short and longer term. Systematic reviews and data bases were searched for randomized controlled trials of computerized cognitive behavior therapy versus a treatment or control condition in people who met diagnostic criteria for major depression, panic disorder, social phobia or generalized anxiety disorder. 22 studies of comparisons with a control group were identified.

The mean effect size superiority was 0.88 (NNT 2.13), and the benefit was evident across all four disorders. Improvement from computerized CBT was maintained for a median of 26 weeks follow-up. Acceptability, as indicated by adherence and satisfaction, was good. Research probity was good and bias risk low. Effect sizes were non-significantly higher in comparisons with waitlist than with active treatment control conditions. Five studies comparing computerized CBT with traditional face-to- face CBT were identified, and both modes of treatment appeared equally beneficial.

The researchers concluded: "Computerized CBT for anxiety and depressive disorders, especially via the internet, has the capacity to provide effective acceptable and practical health care for those who might otherwise remain untreated."

This type of site may be a helpful resource for primary care physicians to direct people to.

For the full abstract, click here.

PLoS ONE 13 October 2010
© 2010 Andrews et al.
Computer Therapy for the Anxiety and Depressive Disorders Is Effective, Acceptable and Practical Health Care: A Meta-Analysis. Gavin Andrews, Pim Cuijpers, Michelle G. Craske, Peter McEvoy and Nickolai Titov. Correspondence to Gavin Andrews: [email protected]

Category: P. Psychological. Keywords: cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, therapy, computer, internet, anxiety, depression, meta-analysis, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 29 October 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.